Penticton is taking its fight against crime to the province | iNFOnews | Thompson-Okanagan's News Source

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Penticton is taking its fight against crime to the province

Well known Penticton businessman and former city councillor John Vassilaki announced his candidacy for mayor this afternoon at City Hall in Penticton, Sept. 6, 2018.

The City of Penticton plans to lobby provincial ministers to do more about crime.

City councillors will have the chance to speak with the ministers in two weeks during the Union of B.C. Municipalities convention in Whistler from Sept. 12 to 16.

Their top priority is the implementation of the Car 40 program, to pair mental health professionals with RCMP officers when responding to mental health calls, according to a press release from the city.

Car 40 has the support of the local organizations such as the RCMP, however “there’s been no movement from Interior Health” the city points out.

“Our goal this year at UBCM is to keep these issues alive, not to let them slide onto the backburner until there’s a major flare up that grabs the media’s attention,” Mayor John Vassilaki said in the release.

“Council has taken many steps towards creating a safer community but we’re at the stage where we need partners to step up and take action. The issues remain and we can’t do this alone.”

READ MORE: Penticton council seeks UBCM support over homeless shelter dispute with BC Housing

Penticton representatives will present a motion to urge the province to support a B.C.-wide program that provides enough funding for Car 40.

“We’re going straight to Health Minister Adrian Dix and Mental Health and Addictions Minister Sheila Malcolmson,” Vassilaki said.

“The province says all the right words and we’ll be looking for the right actions – funding.”

The City also requested meetings with Municipal Affairs Minister Nathan Cullen, Minister of Health Adrian Dix, Minister of Mental Health and Addictions Sheila Malcolmson and Public Safety Minister Mike Farnworth about an urgent need for action.

“We’re worried there is going to be significant slowing of support due to the extreme changes at B.C. Housing,” Vassilaki said.

“We have a simple request of the province: work with us and let’s do it right. All of our residents deserve to feel safe and cared for and unilateral actions don’t do that.”

READ MORE: Paramountcy should be a power of last resort, says UBCM president

Penticton representatives will also be raising the issue of the catch-and-release of prolific offenders.

“It’s a problem plaguing communities across the province and we need the provincial government to do something about it,” Vassilaki said.

“The RCMP are doing everything they can but 20 prolific offenders in Penticton are averaging more than 90 contacts. It’s not sustainable for the officers and it’s creating challenges for residents. It needs to stop.”

The City will release a full itinerary of council's trip to UBCM next week.

To contact a reporter for this story, email Dan Walton or call 250-488-3065 or email the editor. You can also submit photos, videos or news tips to the newsroom and be entered to win a monthly prize draw.

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